Each academic college may nominate one outstanding thesis and one outstanding dissertation.

The Graduate College Awards Committee will review and rate all nominations. The awards committee will assign each thesis and dissertation into one of two broad categories based upon the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation award competition. Category 1 will include social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Category 2 will include biological sciences, mathematics, physical sciences, health sciences and engineering.


Eligible projects for this year's Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Dissertation awards are those successfully defended between August 1, 2023, and August 1, 2024. Nominations are due to the Graduate College by December 1st, 2024. Students: Please see their college/school for their internal application deadline.

The College Dean's office will submit their nomination via the online form. The Dean/Associate Dean of each respective College/School will provide signature and approve the one nominee on the form. The nominations package must include:

  • A PDF of the final, formatted and approved document (thesis or dissertation)
  • A letter of nomination from the student's faculty mentor or department chair


In each category there is a $2,000 prize for the author of the Outstanding Dissertation, and a $1,500 prize for the author of the Outstanding Thesis. Winners will be announced in Spring and recognized at the UNLV Academic Recognition Ceremony & at the Graduate College Awards Ceremony.

Past Award Winners

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Davis Cammann, Master of Science, Life Sciences, 
The Genetic Relationship Between Peripheral Inflamation and Alzheimer's Disease

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Mohammed Jahama, Master of Arts, English
A Name No One Should Know

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Dr Jacqueline Phan, Doctor of Philosophy, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Poop! There It Is! Anti-germinants and Biological Variables as Modulators of Clostridioides Difficile Infection (CDI)

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Dr. Christopher Wakefiled, Doctor of Philosophy, Sociology
The Invisible Stockade: Sex Offender Management, Governmentality, and the Search for Normal Life

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Cale Seymour, Master of Science, Biological Sciences
Analysis of 316 Omnitrophota (OP3) Genomes Reveals a Diverse and Ubiquitous Candidate Phylum of Putative Syntrophs, Predators, and Free-Living Nanobacteria Encoding Giant Open-Reading Frames.

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Maribel Estrada Calderon, Master of Arts, History
The Frontier of the Labor Movement: Latinas and the Longest Strike in Twentieth-Century Las Vegas

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Jeremy Smallwood, Doctor of Philosophy, Astronomy
Accretion and Debris Disc Dynamics Around Single and Higher-Order Star Systems

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Yen-Ling Chen, Doctor of Philosophy, Psychology
Cultural Mechanism of Mothers’ Perceptions of YouthPsychopathology

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Lara Turello, Master of Science, Biochemistry
Investigating the Mechanisms Responsible for Cephalosporin Resistance in Clostridioides difficile Strain 630

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Christopher Forepaugh, Master of Arts, Criminal Justice
Implicit Attitudes, Explicit Attitudes, and Priming: A Preliminary Analysis of Factors Affecting Use of Force Decisions

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Ali Saber Sichani, Doctor of Philosophy, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Application of Data-Driven and Process-Based Modeling Approaches for Water Quality Simulation in Lakes and Freshwater Reservoirs

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Shae Cox, Doctor of Philosophy, History
The Fabric of Civil War Society: The Effect of Uniforms, Badges, and Flags, 1861 to 1939

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Rachel Rahib, Master of Science, Geoscience
Petrogenesis of Enriched and Intermediate Poikilitic Shergottites: From Magmatic Source to Emplacement

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Frank Johnson, Master of Fine Arts, Poetry, Creative Writing
Literal Dope

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Joshua Sackett, Doctor of Philosophy, Life Sciences
Prokaryotic Diversity and Aqueous Geochemistry of Subsurface Environments of the Death Valley Regional Flow System

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Sarah McCarthy, Doctor of Philosophy, Early Childhood, Multilingual, and Special Education
Exploring Mathematics Anxiety of Students At-Risk for Mathematics Difficulties

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Jacqueline Phan, Master of Science, Biochemistry
A Potential Solution to a Poopy Problem: Bile Salt Analogs as Prophylactics Against C lostridium Difficile Infection (CDI)

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Olufunke Ogundimu, Master of Fine Arts, Fiction, Creative Writing
Memories of Three Rivers

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Leland Barker, Doctor of Philosophy, Kinesiology
Biomechanical Analysis of Jumping: The Influence of External Load and Countermovement Depth on Deceleration Strategies and Performance

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Scot Ewen, Doctor of Philosophy, Science Education
Exploring the Effectiveness of Model-Based Instruction to Improve Sixth-Grade Students’ Science Content Knowledge

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Jeremy Smallwood, Master of Science, Astronomy 2018
Secular Resonances during Main-Sequence and Post-Main-Sequence Planetary System Dynamics

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Sara Black, Master of Arts, History
Homeland Homestead, and Haven: The Changing Perspectives of Zion National Park, 1700-1930 2018

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Tyler Stalbaum, Doctor of Philosophy, Mechanical Engineering
Ionic Electroactive Polymer Devices: Physics-Based Modeling with Experimental Investigation and Verification

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Cheryl Anderson, Doctor of Philosophy, Anthropology
The Bioarchaeology of Inequality during the Middle Bronze Age in Central Anatolia

Outstanding Thesis - STEM
Michael Steiner, Master of Science in Geoscience
Dissolution of Nontronite in Low Water Activity Brines in and Implications for the Aqueous History of Mars

Outstanding Thesis - Non-STEM
Jesse Cook, Master of Arts in English
The Only Thing That Matters': A Critique of the Editorial Practices in Garden of Eden

Outstanding Dissertation - STEM
Janelle Droessler, Doctor of Philosophy in Radiochemistry
Direct Dissolution and Electrochemical Investigation of Cerium and Uranium in Ionic Liquid

Outstanding Dissertation - Non-STEM
Margaret Huettl, Doctor of Philosophy in History
Nindandishinaabewimin: Ojibwe Peoplehood in the North American West, 1854-1954